TV Review: The Flash – Gorilla Warfare (2×07)

The Flash Logo review analysis retrospective barry allen grant gustin greg berlanti andrew kreisberg cw

Sometimes you just have to slow down to get back to where you want to be.

One of the things which is, in many ways, the most fun about The Flash is how totally and unashamedly it’s willing to lean into the more ridiculous comic book-y aspects of the premise. I mean, just a few weeks ago, they used King Shark totally and completely seriously, just for a throwaway scene. Like I said at the time, you’ve got to admire the panache of The Flash.

It’s even more apparent, though, in the Grodd episodes. Because on this program we are actually getting a massive great big telepathic Gorilla as the main foe for the episode. How ridiculously wonderful is that? And this isn’t even the first, or the last, time that we’re getting Grodd as the bad guy; he was in the first series last year, and by the looks of the end of this episode, we’ll probably be seeing Grodd again – in a full on Gorilla city episode, no less!

The production team do a really wonderful job of realising this character, actually; the CGI work is genuinely pretty impressive, managing to give this Gorilla some genuine weight and screen presence, and the fact that the reactions from all the regular cast are played entirely straight really helps to make Grodd a threatening, imposing adversary.

the flash gorilla grodd gorilla warfare review dermott downs

Another impressive aspect, I thought, was the way they reversed the usual status quo of the episodes; with Barry recovering from Zoom’s attack last week, he was stuck wheelchair bound within STAR Labs, while Cisco, Caitlin and Wells all ended up out in the field, doing the work that Barry normally does. It was an interesting set of parallels, which added a nice new aspect to the episode; the whole thing ended up feeling a little more distinct from the normal set of episodes, which is always a nice thing to see. There was a great, bitter irony to the fact that Barry ended up stuck in Wells’ wheelchair, whilst Wells was out and about in a Flash suit.

It’s worth commenting on Barry’s recovery arc, actually, because I think it was actually really well handled; Grant Gustin is a fantastic actor, who I really haven’t been singling out enough in these reviews, and Aaron and Todd Helbing (the writers) did a pretty impressive job with the actual course of the recovery, and developing the fact that this was, for Barry, much more of a mental block than a physical one. It was a rather effective way to show the repercussions of Zoom’s attacks, and I’m really hoping that we see this aspect developed further when Zoom eventually does reappear.

the flash season 2 gorilla warfare review cisco reverse flash harrison harry wells carlos valdes tom cavanagh

The performances were strong all round, really; Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdes remain excellent together, for one thing. It’s actually fascinating to see the slow evolution of their relationship – Cisco is starting to become a little more accepting of the E-2 Harrison Wells, and it’s interesting to see the changes in their interactions to reflect that.

John Wesley Shipp also deserves some plaudits, actually, for another great performance as Henry Allen. It is a little bit of a shame that he couldn’t just be a series regular, because he’s such a wonderful character, and a genuinely decent individual; he’s the only one of them who, despite everything, unconditionally accepted the new Wells. The handshake between the pair of them was a really nice moment.

In the end, then, this was another really entertaining episode. I enjoyed it quite a lot, and I’m looking forward to the next one – crossover episode! Fantastic. Seems like it’ll be really awesome!

8/10

This review was recently posted on the Yahoo UK website.

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TV Review: The Flash – Enter Zoom (2×06)

The Flash Logo review analysis retrospective barry allen grant gustin greg berlanti andrew kreisberg cw

Goodbye, Flash. You, too, weren’t fast enough.

-orks, of course, because we’ve already seen this moment from the other perspective. What was earlier a clever in media res style opening is now viewed in an entirely different light; what was serious becomes farcical, contributing to the jovial, lighthearted tone that had been present throughout the whole episode. Naturally, though, it’s all set up for the final twist, the entry that punctures the episode itse-

40ish minutes earlier

So, the sixth episode of The Flash, with a fairly ominous sounding title. Enter Zoom. Zoom, of course, is our big bad for this season. I admit, I’ve had my doubts about Zoom. It seemed to me to be a little reductive to simply have another speedster bad guy after the wonderful Harrison Wells; like, say, continually pitting Oliver Queen against a series of increasingly more accurate archers. I didn’t really feel like any speedster villain could match the emotional stakes of Barry vs the Reverse Flash, so I wasn’t sure if there was any point, really. Much better to just further the development of the Rogues, say, or introduce another new villain. (Aliens seemed like a cool idea, actually.)

Regardless, though, this episode was a good one. The character arcs of all involved are furthered along, but particularly those of Barry and Harrison Wells.

Barry’s dedication to stopping Zoom was well realised, and he was given an interesting motivation to do so as well; his fear that the other Wells, Eobard Thawne, was right about him when he said he’d never be happy. The suggestion is, I suppose, that Barry is depressed in some regards, and he’s leaning into his secret life as the Flash to try and cope with it. It’s a compelling idea they’ve put forward, there, albeit one I’m not expecting them to delve into particularly deeply. Still, as subtext, it’s a nice concept, and Grant Gustin did a great job of portraying it – as an actor, I don’t think I give him enough credit for the work he does in portraying Barry Allen, because he really is fantastic at it.

Wells’ storyline revealed more about his past on Earth-2, as well as some interesting information about his daughter – when her name was revealed, I was pretty surprised, lemme tell you. It’s a great motivation to give him, which makes this Wells both distinct from and similar to his predecessor in several ways; the old Wells, after all, did come to care about Barry as though he were his own child. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Jesse… quickly.

the flash enter zoom review joe west barry allen jesse l martin grant gustin hd westallen

The main plot of this particular episode is also actually genuinely very funny in many respects. After Dr Light from Earth-2 escapes (the one that we met in last week’s episode), Barry and the STAR Labs team end up recruiting Linda Park from ‘our’ Earth, who dated Barry last year, to pretend to be Dr Light in the hopes of fooling Zoom.

It is, as you can imagine, the sort of set up that’s ripe to develop humour with. And that’s exactly that the show does – they take the concept and they run with it (haha). You get lots of great jokes; Cisco’s cardboard cut-outs of each character are a particular delight, and it feeds into a great comic sequence where Linda is learning how to use her powers. It’s an effective bit of levity, and it’s something they do a really good job of maintaining all the way throughout the episode. It carries forward to a similarly effective reframing of the opening of the episode; the circumstances of the first fight between Dr Light and the Flash are now explained, and it’s revealed to have been Linda all along.

It works, of course, because we’ve already seen this moment from the other perspective. What was earlier a clever in media res style opening is now viewed in an entirely different light; what was serious becomes farcical, contributing to the jovial, lighthearted tone that had been present throughout the whole episode. Naturally, though, it’s all set up for the final twist, the entry that punctures the episode itself.

Enter Zoom.

the flash series 2 enter zoom hunter zolomon jay garrick teddy sears eddie thawne fight hd image

Zoom was a genuinely threatening villain. He had a real screen presence, which I don’t think any of the CW DC villains have had before; Reverse Flash, Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson never had this weight attached to them. He has a power over the narrative itself; Zoom distorts the episode, pushing it off course, and changing the very genre and tone of the story. The sheer brutality of the character is juxtaposed with the lighthearted humour that’s prevailed throughout, and the whole episode shifts, the moment Zoom arrives.

Zoom wins, at the end of this episode. He fights Barry, and he beats Barry. Wipes the floor with him. But that’s not all Zoom does; he destroys the Flash, going to great lengths to humiliate him, and end the image of the hero. This is something that not even the Reverse-Flash did; Zoom has one singular goal, and in his pursuit of it, he’s brutal and sadistic and effortlessly cruel, as though in the end, it’s all just inconsequential to him.

That’s truly, really effective. Zoom is shown to be effective; in just ten minutes of this episode, he’s almost completely destroyed our hero with brutal efficiency – not just in terms of his life, but his legacy as well. The ability to not just run faster than Barry, but to control Barry’s own TV show, completely changing the tone and the feel of the episode… it marks Zoom out as a truly threatening adversary.

I was wrong, you see. Zoom is not just a cheap imitation of the Reverse Flash.

Zoom is on a whole other level.

9/10

This review was recently posted on the Yahoo UK website.

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TV Review: Jessica Jones (Episodes 1 – 3)

marvel jessica jones netflix season 1 review logo

On 20th November Netflix released their second Marvel Television Program, which in this particular instance is Jessica Jones, which is based on Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias comic series. I’ve never read it, personally, but I’ve heard some very good things. Obviously, here be spoilers.

AKA Ladies Night (1×01)

Two things stand out in the first episode: Jessica and Kilgrave.

Krysten Ritter is pretty damn awesome as Jessica Jones. Her performance is fantastic, and I really love the character; she’s bitter and sarcastic, and struggling with alcoholism and PTSD. It’s a subtle and nuanced depiction of such a character, which is realised extremely well. She’s a really compelling character, and I think it’s brilliant that these stories are beginning to be told; it’s great that this is a show with a female lead, and it’s even better that the lead is such an atypical one. Jessica Jones is, in short, an excellent lead character.

Kilgrave, who’s the villain of the piece, isn’t exactly in this episode as such, but his presence is very much felt; AKA Ladies Night does a brilliant job of setting up the Purple Man, making him genuinely terrifying. All of that “we don’t say his name” from Daredevil last year seems like child’s play, at this point – without even a second of screentime, we know exactly how brutal and sadistic Kilgrave is, and it’s terrifying. I get the impression he’ll be a really compelling, memorable villain.

jessica jones marvel netflix krysten ritter review

AKA Crush Syndrome (1×02)

This episode picks up where the last one left off, and develops the plotline further; Jessica starts to pursue Kilgrave, hoping to prove the innocence of Hope, the young girl who shot her parents under Kilgrave’s instructions.

We see Kilgrave for the first time this episode, albeit only partially; the full reveal is still being held back, which makes his appearances all the more tense. Kilgrave is genuinely quite frightening; he’s brutal and sadistic, and he just doesn’t care about people. Jessica Jones is doing a really great job of setting up this central villain as someone to really, really give a damn about. They’re making great use of the motif of purple light, too – any scene with even the slightest hint of purple in its palette is significantly more tense than it would be otherwise.

Luke Cage is also developed a little more in this episode, which was nice to see. Interesting that he already has his powers by this point; I wasn’t expected that, I must admit. Looking forward to the next episode, and seeing how they further the relationship between Luke and Jessica.

jessica jones marvel netflix kilgrave review david tennant purple man

AKA It’s called Whiskey (1×03)

We’ve got some more revelations about Jessica this episode, and particularly her past. It’s quite interesting, actually; I’m starting to get the impression that Jessica killed Luke’s wife, and that was why she was spying on Luke. If I’m right (and that seems to be what the show is suggesting, so if I’m wrong I’ve heavily misinterpreted something) then this should prove to be an interesting change to the dynamic between Jessica and Luke; obviously I know the pair of them end up as a long term couple, but I think this aspect with regards to his wife is a new development of the show itself? Regardless, it’s a nice concept.

Kilgrave’s story is furthered as well; his targeting of Patsy is frightening in its sadism, but also it’s pettiness – it’s a childlike act of retribution, carried out on a larger scale because of the scope of his powers. Scary stuff, especially considering how nice Patsy comes across; they’ve done a good job of endearing her to the audience as Jessica’s old friend. Once again, this was another great episode.

This review was recently posted on the Yahoo UK website.

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Yahoo!

yahoo new logo purple logo blogger network alex moreland

So, this is announcement that is of note: I am now also writing for the Yahoo TV website.

Essentially, it means that every I write for this blog will also go on a bigger website with a larger audience first. It’s more of a cool thing for me than it is a significant impact on any of you, but it should explain somewhat why my posts have been a little late over the past week or so (I’ve needed to sort out a few things with Yahoo first, basically).

You can follow the Yahoo blog here (I needed to make another tumblr to post to their website), and see the posts I’ve already made for them here. But I’m about to post them on my normal blog anyway.

So… yes. Normal service shall now resume.